Reading people who need to see a specialist could avoid the stress of finding a parking space at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, thanks to an upcoming trial of video appointments between clinics and patients.
The hospital has revealed it is taking part in a trial of a system already used by NHS Scotland, called ‘Attend Anywhere’. It lets patients see doctors or other hospital staff via a video call – like FaceTime or Skype. Physiotherapy, cancer and community paediatrics are among the Royal Berkshire departments that have signed up to take part in a year-long test of the scheme.
As well as avoiding the need to travel to the hospital’s busy carpark, video calls could also help patients who have mobility or serious health issues, and free up rooms currently used at the hospital.
A kidney care consultant at the hospital, Emma Vaux, tested the system by video conference with Thatcham GP Heike Veldtman (see photo above).
Emma said: “I love the face-to-face nature of the conversation... it feels very different to the usual email or telephone communications [that hospital doctors have] with a GP. I think our relationships will improve as a result and that can only be good for patients.
“It will feel very different when we start to do the same with patients - many will be tech-savvy, but there will also be those who are not and we have to be careful a screen does not get in the way.”
Attend Anywhere says its technology is simple – the patient just clicks ‘start video call’ and does not need a login account or password.
The hospital outlined details of the scheme in its August electronic newsletter.